Gators Slump At Tennessee
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - All Florida could do was watch in stunned silence as the deafening Tennessee crowd drowned out any hope of a second-half comeback. A total 20,984 fans took to their feet as the Gators (18-4, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) walked off the floor at Thompson-Boling Arena to the tune of a 79-63 loss. "That's definitely the wildest crowd we've seen this year," forward Chandler Parsons said. "It's a crazy environment and they don't like us." Florida chipped away at a 23-point second-half Volunteer lead, managing to cut the deficit to 10 with 4:42 to play.But the Volunteers closed out the game with a late flurry and were too much to overcome. Tennessee (13-7, 4-2) opened the game with an 11-3 run and never looked back. UF guard Nick Calathes was sent to the bench after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes of play, and freshman Erving Walker was forced to shoulder the load at point guard for the Gators. The burden was too much for him to handle.Walker was clearly rattled by the raucous Tennessee crowd and struggled to control the ball. Usually quick with the trigger, Walker (three points) passed up open looks that he usually knocks down. Calathes re-entered the game with a little more than six minutes to play in the first half, but by then the Volunteers already had the game well in hand. "Obviously when we lose Nick that's a big part of our offense," Parsons said. Frustration soon began to set in for the Gators. Down 36-19 with 1:04 left in the first half, Florida was charged with a five-second violation after they failed to inbound the ball. The Gators struggled to protect the ball all night, coughing up the ball 18 times - 12 of which came in the first half. "We're careless," Parsons said. "We have to be able to take care of the ball better." Walter Hodge was charged with a technical foul with 15:39 to play in the second half after throwing an elbow to the face of Tennessee freshman Scotty Hopson while fighting for a loose ball in front of the Volunteer bench. Parsons then fouled out with 1:29 to play. He finished with 15 points. Calathes led the way for the Gators with 21 points.